Rep. Engel demands ICE detainees be moved back to NY as they fight their cases

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A U.S. lawmaker is demanding that the 25 immigrants from Westchester being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement nearly 1,000 miles away be moved back to New York as they fight their cases.

Manuel Arpi and Manuel Zhinin are just two of the 25 Westchester residents moved to a detention center 900 miles away in Alabama as they fight their immigration cases. Jessica Young, with Make the Road New York in White Plains, says this sets them up for failure.

"It’s going to be very difficult to communicate with them. There is time change you have to deal with, you are not going to be able to go sit with the person, which is the best way to communicate with your client,” she says.
Rep. Eliot Engel, who represents part of Westchester, wrote a letter this week to the Department of Homeland Security secretary demanding the detainees be immediately returned to the state to be near their families and access adequate legal representation.

"This is prejudging them before they go to trial, figuring they are guilty anyway so let’s make it hard for them,” says Engel.

Engel says he is also concerned about potential inhumane conditions at Etowah County Detention Center, which allegedly include failing to provide adequate medical care and underfeeding.

Last year, a Turn to Tara investigation revealed a scathing firsthand account from Dejuan Callender, a former detainee at the facility. Despite being pardoned by the governor, Callender was deported by ICE soon after News 12’s investigation.

MORE: Between Borders series

MORE:  Immigrant at center of 'Dejuan's Story' deported
Earlier this year, News 12 made several requests for public documents from Etowah County Detention Center, but the requests are still unanswered.

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